It has been no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit nursing homes across the country hard. According to advocates, a federal agency may partly be to blame.
Katie Smith Sloan, President & CEO of LeadingAge, has sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence concerning FEMA’s efforts to distribute life-saving PPE to nursing homes around the country.
“I am asking you to personally investigate mounting evidence that FEMA shipments of PPE are deeply delayed, frequently stocked with useless and expired supplies, and delivered in quantities radically insufficient to help protect older Americans from the deadly coronavirus. Further, nursing homes across the country have not received clear and helpful communications about what to expect and when to expect it.”
Smith Sloan also stated her concerns involving plans to reuse PPE and that “steadily declining COVID hospitalization rates should reduce daily hospital PPE usage.”
According to NBC10 Boston, Sarah Brayton Nursing Center in Fall River received gowns that didn’t have holes for hands.
It is not just happening in Fall River, however. PPE issues are popping up all over the country.
According to Smith Sloan and LeadingAge members, the PPE problems are nationwide.
•District of Columbia: “The amount received was not a weekly supply,
o Eye protection (goggles, 41; we usually use 70 per week);
o Surgical masks (shipment was 398, we usually use 3850)
o Gloves (shipment included 1800; we go through 14,000 per week);
o Gowns (shipment included 432; we go through 1400 weekly)
o There was no N95 Masks, Face Shields, Hand sanitizer or wipes received in this shipment.”
•In Iowa, a nursing home administrator “is a full-time PPE searcher; spends multiple hours a day searching for a variety of PPE.”
•Massachusetts: “resorting to Amazon for rain ponchos.”
•Kansas: “We received 1,000 cloth masks yesterday with no return address, just a Topeka, KS USPS facility. No idea where they came from. Nothing we ordered. And these masks are virtually useless. They are made of t-shirt material with non-stretchy ear loops. As CDC likes to remind us too, cloth masks are not true PPE.”
•Missouri: A nursing home, “received 500 cloth masks that they can’t use because their health system requires that staff wear Level 1 and/or Level 3 surgical masks or N95 masks according to PPE protocols.”
•Missouri: “500 cloth masks which were too small and tough to breathe through, some surgical disposable masks, some gowns, a few safety glasses, and no N95’s.”
•Minnesota: “We received a few hundred of the masks pictured below at a couple of our ND sites from FEMA. As you will see, they are made by Hanes so it is basically a mask made from men’s underwear in my opinion. It is certainly nothing our staff can use in the facility.”
•South Carolina: “Nine members have received Masks, most of which are packs of 500 cloth masks. one member received 96 masks. No other type of PPE.”
•Nebraska: “2000 white cotton masks that her staff described as tighty-whitey – uncomfortable and unusable.
•California: “We received masks that had been sitting in storage for years and are past expiration date; we got cloth masks (not PPE): we got N95 masks that were not usable because the elastic broke. So we’ve got thousands of masks that are not usable, and we have staff who are stapling elastic to the mask frames.”
•Wisconsin: “The masks shrank. They’d be OK for people with small faces, but not for anyone with a large face….We are trying to figure out a way to use them appropriately.”
•Wisconsin: “156 plastic gowns (trash bag like things, punch a hole through for heads and arms) — huge, so large that they’re not usable
Smith Sloan hopes that action by Pence will come quickly.
“It is unclear if this is a failure of leadership, logistics, communications or all three. But for older Americans, the coronavirus is still ongoing.”